Fruit, Chocolate and Guinea Pig

Wherever he goes DonQui likes to sample the local cuisine. Ideally he is hoping to discover new foods and sample different tastes that he would not get at home. For him, this is one of the greatest joys of travelling.

To this end he has booked a morning food tour with the delightful Yadira. DonQui learns a lot about Ecuadorian food — especially the plentiful tropical fruits, most of which are completely unknown to him. Yadira is an extremely knowledgeable and friendly guide. On the walking tour with several delicious food stops she also explains some of Quito’s history to DonQui which helps give him perspective on the places he visits both on the tour and later.

Being a bit of a chocoholic the tasting at Yumbos Chocolate on San Fransisco Square is an absolute delight. DonQui learns much about their sustainable, fair trade production and the fact that Ecuador’s Arrriba cacao is considered to be the best in the world. Most of it is exported to Switzerland, Belgium and Germany to form the basis of those countries’ exquisite chocolates.

He buys a few bars to take back home with him.

The next day DonQui books a leisurely lunch at Inés restaurant.

The starter of Bola de verde (Plantain filled with pulled pork, carrots and peas with a peanut sauce) is both a visual and taste delight — probably the highlight of the meal as starters so often are.

This is followed by Brujo encocado (Scorpion fish with coconut sauce, yellow rice and caramelised coconut). The Scorpion fish is similar in texture to cod but slightly meatier and with a delightful delicate taste which goes so well with the coconut sauce.

Then DonQui tries smoked guinea pig croquettes. They are presented with no small amount of theatre on a bed of branches and leaves (their native habitat) in a glass bowl filled with smoke.

So what does guinea pig taste like? Well nothing like chicken. The meat is darkish and the taste and texture is perhaps a bit like a cross between duck and rabbit. DonQui would not go out of his way to seek it out again but he did enjoy it and was glad to have had the opportunity to sample something new and different.

Finishing off the meal is a delightful chocolate concoction with sweet corn cream, a touch of banana vinegar and caramelised corn (maize). As with everything else it is absolutely delicious.

It is not just fine dining that DonQui enjoys. He has also become quite partial to Empanadas — fried pasties stuffed with cheese or meat and the dough made from plantain flour.

Another favourite is humita — a pre-Columbian dish of fresh ground chocio (large kernel Andean maize) with cheese steamed in a corn husk.

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